Chechnyan pastor beheaded; 2 Baptist leaders still missing

HAMBURG, Germany (BP)--Russian Baptist leaders have confirmed earlier reports that Aleksandr Kulakov, 65, a Baptist pastor in Grozny, Chechnya, has been beheaded, according to report in European Baptist Press Service April 22.

His head was reportedly displayed in an open market area, and police invited church members to come to a public morgue and try to identify his body.

Kulakov disappeared March 12 and was widely believed to have been kidnapped by radical Islamic forces in the area. He had led the struggling Baptist congregation in Grozny since its previous pastor, Alexei Sitnikov, was kidnapped in October 1998. There have been no ransom demands or reports of his whereabouts.

Volodya Kargiev, youth leader of the Central Baptist Church in Vladikavkaz, has also been reported as kidnapped by Chechnyan bandits. A $100,000 ransom has been demanded for his release, according to a report in Baptist Times on April 8. Two Orthodox priests were also kidnapped in Chechnya the first week in April, one of them taken from his church altar by four men with machine guns, according to the Baptist Times.

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